Exposed and compromised, the once predators turned prey have nothing much to show for it. A new predator watched the weak prey from a distance, ready to attack at the opportune moment. Like a weak prey, our once indomitable brands we once thought of as leaders even kings of the brand jungle lay there weak, frail and exposed. Eveready, Uchumi, Mumias, Kenya Airways just to mention but a few.
The problem with being on top of your game is you get so full of yourself that you forget to remain atop your game. The advent of internet technology and advance logistics have made the world a true global village, a fact that top Kenyan brands do not factor in their strategies.
The rules are simple, you kill your competition or you will be killed. Not factoring in the global competitive landscape in their strategies has caused our local brands to decry protection from the government. Theodore Levitt in his article Marketing Myopia points out to such brands that are too focussed on their product and not the solution they provide. Eveready fits the bill, a company providing energy solutions but rather fixated on its product, the dry cell battery. Of course they cried out to the government to protect the “industry” which is rather the product. Why should Kenyans bare the cost of their inefficiencies? Competition from cheaper albeit low quality (of course Kenyans will go for the cheaper product first) dry cells from China has led to the closure of the factory.
Was their opportunity for the brand to provide far superior solutions? Affirmative. There were large scale opportunities now being exploited by international brands in this very market. Solar solutions is a good example, Lithium Ion batteries that could act as replacements for the millions of cellphones and other electronic devices.
The sugar industry in Kenya led by the Mumias brand has made Kenyans suffer their jaw dropping inefficiencies. I once did a research on industrial oils in use at the various sugar factories in the western part of Kenya. I got the privilege to tour the factories. The blame on the cost of production can only be theirs. Brands should be able to factor in the current business environment to be as efficient as possible. The colonial factories are ever breaking down and in fact during my tour, 3 factories were not in operation as they had broken down. It is clear that the industries were run by executives who did not think reinvesting in the brand was unnecessary.
The retail industry rakes in billions for the private sector with Nakumatt leading the way. Uchumi once a leader is now a struggling predator turned prey. Like a gunshot to the chest, it’s slowly bleeding to death suffocating in its own blood of mismanagement and corruption. Even then, it had a chance of recovery but the retailer continues to die.
Why? The government bail me out mentality. Taxpayer resources should be safeguarded against such executives who should be immediately fired at the thought of a bailout. Kenya Airways wanted some KES 60 billion (approx. USD 580 million) in bailout. This should be a crime in itself to the taxpayers who can benefit far much more if the money is invested elsewhere. Bailouts are funding for inefficiencies and worse for the continued inefficiencies. The KES 2 billion injected to revive Pan Paper Mills rather to revive inefficiencies failed immediately when the government “realised” there are no trees to mill paper.
If you can’t compete, you should be left to die in the brand jungle. Let the new Kings lead the way and the subjects shall reap the fruits of good branding. Local brands should be strive to compete globally as much as they are operating locally. Compete on price or quality either way this cannot emanate from inefficiency.